The city of Fresno has strengthened and extended its shelter-in-place emergency ordinance through May 6 to combat the coronavirus.

The previous shelter-in-place order was set to expire at the end of Sunday.

“The next two weeks are critical to slowing and eventually stopping the spread of COVID-19.” — Fresno Mayor Lee Brand

At a Friday morning teleconference, Mayor Lee Brand announced new measures that include requiring employees at essential businesses to wear face masks.

“The next two weeks are critical to slowing and eventually stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Brand said. “I know we asking our residents and businesses to make tremendous sacrifices, but I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t willing to make the same sacrifices and if I didn’t think it was the best way to protect everyone in our community.”

The order takes effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m.

Social Distancing Also Now Mandatory

Businesses will also be required to enforce social distancing, including limiting the number of people in a store at a given time. Customers in line will have to be 6 feet apart. And, businesses must post social-distancing signs at their entry points.

The order follows CDC recommendations made last week and a similar move by the city of Los Angeles.

While employees must wear masks, that rule does not apply to the general public.

Businesses not following the new rules could face fines or closure.

No Gathering in Public

The shelter-in-place order now forbids gatherings in place of any size. It previously allowed gatherings of 10 or fewer people.

Brand said that he’s looking for voluntary compliance with the new order. Fines reach as high as $1,000, and arrests are possible.

But Brand said he would rather operate with a softer hand and it’s not his intention to have people arrested.

“We don’t have the resources to arrest our way out of this. We have no intention doing that,” Brand said.

Only “egregious or repeat offenders” would be subject to penalty.

On March 18, Brand’s office issued an order for a voluntary shelter-in-place, to go into effect the following day. Hours later, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a mandatory shelter-in-place statewide.

Outdoor Activities Permitted With Rules

Fresno residents are allowed to leave their homes for essential activities, such as grocery shopping or medical appointments. They may also travel to and from work, provided work is at an essential business.

Outdoor activities are permitted, provided social distancing requirements of at least 6 feet are met.

“I’ve ever seen so many people walking dogs.  I need to take my dog out for a walk. He’s probably bored like I am,” Brand said. “All those activities can go on. The parks are still open, too, as long as people are responsible and follow the guidelines.”

Parks Closed for Easter, but Will Reopen

Parks remain open, but will essentially be limited to green space use. Most recreational activities within the park such as sports courts, picnic areas, and playgrounds are closed. Parking lots surrounding city parks are blocked off as well.

The order allows the city manager to shut down parks altogether if necessary for social distancing compliance.

City parks will be closed Saturday and Sunday to avoid the traditional Easter weekend crowds. Brand said private security will patrol parks to keep people away.

City Law Allows Punishment

While the order (2020-13) does not specifically mention punishment such as arrests or fines, it is allowed through other city laws.

The city’s code dictating an emergency ordinance allows for a misdemeanor punishment for not following an order.

Other parts of city law allow a fine of up to $1,000 or a maximum of one year in jail.

“This fine structure was there to begin with. Those were always tools available. We’d prefer, again, to get voluntary compliance,” Brand said.

Split Reaction Among Council

Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias praised Brand’s actions.

“I am in full support of the mayor’s action today and only wished it would have been done sooner allowing our community to be better protected,” Arias said. “Those who still don’t see the urgency for these measures need to be reminded that this is not about politics or philosophical debates but protecting our residents’ health and safety.”

Councilman Garry Bredefeld said that he was opposed to the latest order.

“This is the heavy hand of government acting in an authoritarian way,” Bredefeld said. “It’s absurd that Mayor Brand is now ordering people to do what they’ve been doing all along in terms of social distancing and following CDC guidelines.  Because he is now ordering  a lockdown instead of it being a voluntary ‘shelter in place’ and employees in the private sector are being forced to wear facial masks, people are now subject to a misdemeanor if not compliant.

“This could result in not only a $1,000 fine but also a year in jail, which the Mayor hid at his press conference.  The mayor is not a physician yet he is forcing people to wear masks when doctors at the CDC have at this point not mandated them.  Whether it’s Brand arbitrarily shutting down many ‘non-essential’ businesses that could remain open following CDC guidelines, or it’s threatening people with fines who are already complying with social distancing, we are witnessing authoritarian local government in real-time.”

Brand Expects Peak in Late April

Brand extended the shelter-in-place order to May 6 based on modeling that indicates COVID-19 cases will peak in late April.

He expressed optimism that life will return to normal.

“There is a concern and anxiety in our community, but there is also hope,” Brand said. “I see it every day and the stories I hear about people discovering new innovation and technology to stay connected with family and friends; volunteers providing food and medicine or making masks for the elderly;  and the hundreds of encouraging and entertaining videos that let us know people are still OK.”

Where to Get Information

Information on all of Fresno emergency orders is available by calling 3-1-1 or at

Similar Order in Clovis

The city of Clovis also announced that enforcement of shelter-in-place and social distancing policies could lead to $1,000 fines, with no warnings necessary.

But, city spokesman Chad McCollum says his city also would rather use a gentle hand.

“While these orders provide the ability to issue a citation without going through a lengthy and formal written warning process, law enforcement will issue verbal warnings and instruction to those who are found to not be in compliance with the emergency orders; which includes large group gatherings or operation of a non-essential business,” McCollum said. “Issuing of fines is a last resort for those who refuse to follow the warnings and instruction and continue to violate the emergency order.”
McCollum added that law enforcement would not stop people in the street or in their cars to question them about a potential violation.


17 Responses

  1. Frances

    You say it is Mandatory to were mask were do we get them we have no money to even make them

    • J

      A mask is mandatory only for essential workers. If that’s you your employer is to provide it for you if you don’t have one. For others CDC recommends one but it’s not required.

      • Penny

        All the workers at Sonic on Nees and Willow are not wearing gloves or masks and they are serving people through the drive through and the drive up. People are sitting and eating at the tables. Is this considered Clovis? Are there rules different for essential workers?


    I want to say I see a lot more team work & me a life time resident of Fresno .ca
    I know how important this stay at home Order is and I’m willing to do what it takes to keep and my safe and healthy not only my. Family but my COMMUNITY SO LET ALL DO R PART SO WE CAN GET BACK TO OUR NORMAL LIFES LOVE MY COMMUNITY GOD BLESS B SAFE

  3. Debbie

    I would like to know how many heart attacks, deaths from cancer, pneumonia, and car accidents in this same period of time? For a community of 500,000 people and only having 120 cases, this seems like extreme government reach. I also question the loss of personal freedoms that people are so willing to give up. We are not New York where these measures are necessary.

    • Angelia K

      You can have a heart attack & cancer and not infect 3 people around you. You CAN infect people if you are positive and not even showing signs of the disease yet, since symptoms don’t show up for 5-14days. You can keep infecting even more than 3 people if you DO develop a cough & you’re within 6 ft of ANYONE. 120 cases can double every 2-3 days if we don’t take care of this now. You can get it by touching a surface & touching your face. You can give it to relatives with close contact. Your parents & grandparents most likely won’t survive it, even if you do. Could you live with that? If you caused heir death cuz you don’t want to listen? Listen to the experts or this could last even longer. A year or more.

      • Robert Michael Hughes

        Stay home and you won’t need to worry.

    • Cat

      These measures are necessary here and now. Have you seen the spike in cases in Fresno county? There has not been a decrease as the curve goes up up up. That’s the truth of the matter.

    • Pat

      We don’t have the same problem as New York because our state and local authorities acted quickly and continue to protect us from those who would rather risk all of us for their “personal freedom,” aka selfishness.

    • G

      What your asking are stupid questions, those are things that are out of our control…We don’t need to be in NY. The idea is to CONTROL the spread of COV19, if we do our part as asked we can be successful to spreading the VIRUS before it’s gets way out of hand so we can go back to our normal life’s…it gets to me how many ignorant people like yourself who have this mentality of doing things your way that causes the spread of the virus, simple task stay home and limit your traveling to stores and protect yourself when out in public with any made up face masks that are simple to make….you have cotton tights cut the part of the thigh and walla you have a face mask to put over your head

  4. Sam Lucido

    Freedom is lost a drop at a time. You will not know when you have lost it until it is gone. Then you will realize that it is lost each time you buy into what was sold as an emergency measure for a limited time.

    • Rose

      Thank you Sam for your input. I do agree that we must protect the freedom that this country allows which is more than other country and WE MUST PROTECT IT!
      In this case is more about safety and cooperating with what we know will help the process to overcome. I’m 68yrs old and want to do all I can to protect my children and grandchildren without surrendering my freedom. May God have Mercy and carry us through this.

  5. Michael Roberts

    I am very concerned when the government starts to make laws/orders that limit our freedom of assembly. We are a country were we based our life on personal freedoms not based on whats best for the community, that would be a type of communism or socialism. This makes me want to go out and defy this order just to prove a point. I am a little surprised that the ACLU hasn’t gotten involved and brought lawsuits against cities for this and I wish they would. The older I get the more conservative I become and appreciate the rights I and my family do have. I don’t want to see them slowly taken away with the perception that it’s only temporary and is for the best of the population. To Angelia’s point about protecting those people in your family by following this order I would say, at what point do you tell the government to leave you alone and let you live your life the way you want. It’s a slippery slope when you start giving away a little bit of your constitutional rights. I’m not an extremist nor a conspiracy theorist but I do have a problem with having something taken away from me that is mine when I haven’t done anything wrong. I am glad Mayor Brand said; “I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t willing to make the same sacrifices and if I didn’t think it was the best way to protect everyone in our community” but that is a personal choice and not the governments. He puts a little guilt and subtle compliance into it by saying that. People should do whats best to help prevent the deadly potential of this virus but when the government makes it mandatory with the possibility of monetary and incarceration as potential penalties it makes me mad.

    • Margaret Smith

      The government is asking people to please stay home, so that we protect the most vulnerable of our population. We live in a society that is based on certain rights and freedoms but when people actions infringe on my freedom and rights or anyone’s else’s. Then the Government must step in with minimal intervention to rectify the situation because someone doesn’t want to listen and the end result ends in more restrictions. Everyone please stay home, so we can get back to our lives sooner.

  6. Espy

    Unfortunately, even though most people have taken it upon themselves to do what’s right, there is a small percentage that do not have the discipline or mindset. It just takes one irresponsible individual to cause damage to a society that is trying do the right thing. If you have been watching our local news, then you know we have more than our share of irresponsible individuals out there. So, trust but verify. If a fine is what it takes to make it work, then so be it. Eventually, everyone will get in line. I myself am a veteran. For me, this is not sacrifice to have to stay inside or participate in social distancing but a small inconvenience. A small burden that I will shoulder to keep my family and yours safe.

  7. Elvira

    I visited McDonalds drive thru yesterday 4/21, and the woman who prepared my coffee, took my debit card was no wearing a mask nor gloves. I asked her “Why aren’t you wearing a mask nor gloves”? she responded “It’s not mandatory, I called the county last week and I was told it was not mandatory”, I told her she was wrong and that it is mandatory for workers. She just continued to argue and I drove off.

  8. Jzee

    It seem to amaze me how many elderly go about their business shopping without a mask! It needs to be mandatory for senior citizens because WE can be the ones to pass the virus for our pure selfishness!! A elderly man at Costco in Clovis sneeze not only did he not cover his mouth but he told me his mask was in his pocket after I asked him to please put it on!! He got irate babbling I kept walking away from his space! more & more I see seniors shopping without mask!!

    Also, driving on Friant I seen 15 cars of people jumping a fence going fishing! No officials ever stop to check. I seen CHP & Sheriffs drive by doing nothing!!


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